Sir Hans Sloane, 1st Baronet, PRS FRS (16 April 1660 – 11 January 1753) was an Irish physician, naturalist and collector noted for bequeathing his collection of 71,000 items to the British nation, thus providing the foundation of the British Museum, the British Library and the Natural History Museum, London. He was elected to the Royal Society at the age of 25. Sloane traveled to the Caribbean in 1687 and documented his travels and findings with extensive publishings years later. Sloane was a renowned medical doctor among the aristocracy and was elected to the Royal College of Physicians by age 27.
His name was later used for streets and places such as Hans Place, Hans Crescent, and Sloane Square in and around Chelsea, London - the area of his final residence - and also for Sir Hans Sloane Square in his birthplace in Ireland, Killyleagh.
Sloane was born on 16 April 1660 at Killyleagh in County Down, Ireland (Modern day Northern Ireland). He was the seventh son of Alexander Sloane (died 1666), agent for James Hamilton, second Viscount Clandeboye and later first Earl of Clanbrassil. Sloane's family had migrated from Ayrshire in Scotland, but settled in the north of Ireland under James I. His father died when he was six years old.
As a youth, Sloane collected objects of natural history and other curiosities. This led him to the study of medicine, which he went to London, where he studied botany, materia medica, surgery and pharmacy. His collecting habits made him useful to John Ray and Robert Boyle. After four years in London he travelled through France, spending some time at Paris and Montpellier, and stayed long enough at the University of Orange-Nassau to take his MD degree there in 1683. He returned to London with a considerable collection of plants and other curiosities, of which the former were sent to Ray and utilised by him for his History of Plants.
Sloane was elected to the Royal Society in 1685. In 1687, he became a fellow of the College of Physicians, and the same year went to Jamaica aboard HMS Assistance as personal physician to the new Governor of Jamaica, the second Duke of Albemarle. Jamaica was fast emerging as a source of immense profit to British merchants based on the cultivation of sugar and other crops by the slave labor of West Africans—many from the Akan and other peoples of the regions which the English entitled the Gold and Slave Coasts. During his time in the Caribbean, Sloan visited several islands and collected numerous plant specimens as well as large supplies of cacao and Peruvian bark which he would later use for making quinine to treat eye ailments.
Albemarle died in Jamaica the next year, so Sloane's visit lasted only fifteen months. During that time he noted about 800 new species of plants, which he catalogued in Latin in 1696; he later wrote of his visit in two lavishly illustrated folio volumes.